(Editor's Note: Between now and the November 6 election, the Press-Herald will examine each of the nine proposed Constitutional Amendments that will appear on the ballot.)
Proposed Amendment 4 on the Nov. 6 ballot enhances benefits provided to spouses of veterans.
"We do everything we can here to try and help veterans and their families," state senator Robert Adley said. "When you recognize that less than 10 percent of the public serve in the military – without them we wouldn't have anything."
According to Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana (PAR) guide to the 2012 amendments, an amendment passed in 2010 gave parish governments the ability to allow voters to double the homestead exemption to $150,000 in their parish for disabled veterans with a 100 percent service-connected disability rating. It also allowed veteran's spouses to continue claiming the higher exemption if it was in effect at the time the veteran died.
The new amendment would allow surviving spouses of deceased disabled veterans to claim the higher exemption if they occupy and remain owner of the couple's home, whether or not the veteran died before the exemption was in effect.
Webster Parish voted to allow the higher exemption during the 2011 election, joining 46 other parishes. Four additional parishes have the proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot and 13 have not put it before their voters yet.
Proponents of the amendment, according to PAR, say it is a good gesture of support for veterans and their spouses.
"The impact on local taxing bodies would be minimal," the PAR guide reads. "In 2010, officials estimated there were approximately 2,000 homeowner/occupants in Louisiana who would be eligible for the higher exemption. The estimated statewide impact if all parishes offered the new exemption was $2 million in lost annual local revenues, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of total property taxes collected statewide."
Opponents of the amendment, according to PAR, say it would further erode the tax base in parishes that adopt it.
A vote for Amendment 4 will extend a $150,000 homestead exemption to surviving spouses of deceased disabled veterans who died prior to the exemption coming into effect.
A vote against would exclude those spouses from the benefit.